A Series of Unfortunate Events โ€“ Paid in Coupons

The Baudelaire orphans have been sent to the Lucky Smells Lumbermill and are being forced to work on the production floor. After a grueling morning of “log day,” the workers are given an entire five minutes for lunch, but the Baudelaire’s come to find that lunch consists of gum. Frustrated, they wonder if they can use their wages to buy something else, but it turns out that the Lucky Smells Lumbermill pays their workers in coupons rather than actual currency. The coupons don’t have any value since the workers don’t have any money to go out and buy things anyway. The workers also don’t have power to leave or demand better conditions because Lucky Smells is the only place to work in town.

When a single firm controls the labor market in a region, they are said to have monopsony power in the market. Monopsonies can pay workers below competitive wages because workers are unable to find alternative employment opportunities. In this case, the Lucky Smells Lumbermill pays them almost nothing since the coupons can’t really be redeemed anywhere.

Teen Titans Go — The Gold Standard

The gang tries to catch a leprechaun for St. Patrick’s Day so that they can get his three wishes. In their quest, Beast Boy uses one of his wishes to become a leprechaun and beings to “live the leprechaun life” which includes a lust gold. Beast boy sells all of his friend’s stuff in exchange for gold. He then announces that his goal is to get the government back on the gold standard and attempt to fix the exchange rate. They go on to explain the rationale behind the gold standard and Nixon’s authorization to end the gold standard.

Thanks to “Mike on Twitter” for posting about the clip!

Agents of SHIELD — She Wanted Gold!

 

Loralei is seeking to take over the world and she wants money, but Rooster shows up with a bag full of paper money instead of gold. Rooster explains to her that on Earth, paper money is just like gold although he mistakenly says that Ben Franklin was a US president. While dollars used to be based on gold, they have since been converted to fiat money is backed on faith of the US government.

 

The Simpsons — 3 Kids & No Money

Homer laments of his problem of having no money and three children, but would instead prefer no kids and “3 money.” Kids, thankfully, cannot be used as money, but do represent a tradeoff in that parents could spend their money on other items instead.

Thanks to Nick Covington for the clip!

South Park — Fiat Money

 

Stan describes the economy as being both real and not real at the same time. The market works because people believe in the economy and believe that paper money and plastic can count as spending. The concept of fiat money stems from people’s belief that the currency they hold actually has true value. This differs from commodity money in that the currency is not tied to a single asset.

Thanks toย Zoe Cook-Nadelย for the suggestion!

Billy Paul — Let the Dollar Circulate

I reached out to #EconTwitter and asked what songs they like to use to teach different topics in their classes and the results did not disappoint:

Since I’m not a macroeconomist, I have very little content on the macro side from tv and movies, but apparently music covers a lot of macro topics. The first suggestion was this 1975 Billy Paul song, Let the Dollar Circulate which begs for money to start flowing through the economy and wonders why things have slowed down (Is it all because of Watergate?). Paul notes that “Things are gettin’ higher, makes it hard on the buyers”ย  (inflation is happening) and “Unemployment on the rise.” The song was released at the end of the 1973-1975 recession. I was curious what unemployment and inflation looked like in the 1970s leading up to the recession, so I went and put together a FRED chart for you:

Thanks to Leo for the song suggestion!

Up ↑